When the original large Wegner model was rumored to be an official Gunsite Training Center knife, I had to get one to try out. It was the first time that I considered a ‘specialized’ hunting knife could be a useful utility or even tactical knife. The knife was excellent, but the ergos didn’t fit me and I it was a bit too heavy for me. I figured the Ocelot would solve those problems and add a few more features, so I took the plunge and got one.
I had been waiting very long for the Ocelot to hit the market. It was I think 3 or 4 years since the first prototypes were shown online and apparently sold at a show. Then the waiting began for the model to finalize into a production model. The first plan was to make it in (grey) FRN with a compression lock, but lo en behold, the production model turned out to be a lockback model with SS liners and G10 scales! I am a cat person of sorts, with two feline companions in the house so I was sold from the beginning.
The Ocelot is similar in size to the well-know Delica, Native and other 3-inch bladed folders. A few recent offerings in that field, like the Li’l Temperance and the Mini Manix, have been big. The blade length was near the 3 inch mark, but the width and handle were made for a much bigger knife. The little big knives offer great performance, but sometimes you want a small folder to just be a small folder. In that respect, the Ocelot is a ‘real’ 3 inch folder. Carry is great due to the overall thinner profile and the gentle curve. These two features make the Ocelot one of the finest IWB carry folders.
The G10 slabs are thinner than usual. I also find the G10 to be smoother and less aggressive out of the box, than say the Mini Manix of Yojimbo. I think Spyderco used ‘regular’ high-quality G10 instead of the extra-glass-filled variety they use in other folders. Of course, the G10 doesn’t need to be grippy by itself, the paw prints add to the grip.
Maybe that is why I was a bit disappointed at first in the grip of the Ocelot. With Spyderco’s reputation of using more grippy and thicker G10, combined with the cutout paw prints, I expected the Ocelot’s handle to be as rough as a rasp. It isn’t, not even out of the box. What dawned on me after a while, is that the handle is ‘just as’ grippy as that new Paramilitary out of the box. Smoother G10 plus paw prints creates just as rough a surface a the thick extra glass filled G10 on say a Yojimbo.
However, the paw prints are not nearly as grippy for me as the much larger divot holes of an ATR or Li’l Temperance handle. Only when I purposefully made my hands wet and greasy (kitchen work), did I notice how effective the paw prints can be. Cleaning the paw prints was easy for me, not much different than my usual full cleaning of folders. First full inside and outside rinsing under warm water, liquid dishwashing detergent and a brush, rinse again and within two minutes I’m busy drying and oiling. The paw prints take extra work to dry them, but it can be done.
I think the handle on the Ocelot offers something for everyone. The gentle curves make the folder easy to carry and easy to work with. The humps and gripping serrations are in the right place to make your grip stick securely enough for MBC work, if you’d like that. Upside down grips, edge-in and out, it’s all equally comfy and grippy for all types of mundane utility stuff.
The blade is just as thick as on the Mini Manix, the locking bar and handle are all full thickness. This makes the Ocelot feel very strong in regular use. Strength-wise, the way it locks up, feels just like a Mini Manix. Actually, the Ocelot’s blade retains it blade thickness much closer to the tip than the Mini Manix. Still, that thickness is also one of the reasons the Ocelot is not in my top-three favorite folding knives.
Apart from tip-up clips, I’m also addicted to flat grinds. The hollow grind of the Ocelot is plenty sharp, but I guess that when you work so much with one particular grind (flat in my case) you notice something different. The hollow ground blade just feels different to me. Subjectively I think I’m meeting more resistance in everything from onions to cardboard. That’s too bad, because I absolutely love the curve of the blade. The curvy blade/handle on the Ocelot has the potential to become the perfect folding kitchen knife. Not only can this small folder put a lot of edge on a cutting board, the tip is nicely sharp and small. The Ocelot can hold its own between a paring knife and a small kitchen utility knife.
The tip is thick, ‘narrow’ and sharp. I had a lot of confidence to just stick that tip in a light crate to cut and pry the heavy plastic bands of. No marks on the blade or edge. The round butt-end of the handle further facilitates working with the point. Not only is it round and wide enough to properly ‘seat’ in the palm of my hand, the gripping serrations on the spine are perfect for placing your index finger for control.
I really love those little gripping serrations on the spine, closer to the tip. Cutting out photos, articles et cetera, works like no other folder. I used them pretty much for every task where I worked with the tip. And they never got in the way.
One drawback was the gold bug. The first time testing the Ocelot in the kitchen was when the paint started to fall off, or rather after the first washing and wiping the blade clean with a towel. After reading and seeing on the forums how good the bug looks with all the gold removed, I dived into my wife’s make-up kit to look for some nail polish removal. The paint came off in 10 seconds flat, all the way, even in the little legs of the spyder. I expected it to be a little harder. The ‘black’ bug ghosts out a bit in different light, it looks way cooler than regular laser engraving.
I do recognize now why some people like the semi skinner design as an MBC knife. The most secure forward grip (one that keeps your fingers off the blade) on the ocelot, necessitates gripping the knife at the far end of the handle. The choil is now ‘empty’ and your reach has just increased a full inch. In a saber grip, the tip is in-line with the main bones in the forearm. Theoretically, this helps absorb shock from impact. In my training, I find that it makes pointing and hitting the target –especially in deep fencing-like lunges- easier to do. The curvy design, allows the edge to be presented first, ahead of your knuckles. The Chinook II also has this attribute. When closed the Ocelot protrudes about 5mm past my closed hand, to make for an excellent impact tool. The rounded butt is not optimal for softer targets like shoulders, upper legs or biceps (unlike the Yojimbo for example), but one harder targets (hands, chest) it works just as good as anything.
An excellent utility/tactical folder, much like the Mini Manix. It is very nice to see a narrow and easy-to-carry design again, with premium materials. And the clip goes everywhere you want. I chose a pair of right/left-handed Ocelots, all tip-up of course. A lefty PE version to work with, and a righty CE version as a spare and for those occasions when some teeth come in handy.
However, I disliked the hollow grind. I now know I’ve gone over the edge. It’s flat grinds all the way for me. I lent my Ocelot to friends and they all thought that it was a sharp as anything. It’s probably nothing objective but I just need a full flat grind to be completely happy. Still, I like the Ocelots plenty. They are the biggest knives I can work with in public, among nonknife people. The paw prints just make it look ‘cute’. And the round shape of the knife adds to this perception of a ‘cute useful tool’. Another fine pair for ye olde carry rotation, but I won’t be getting a ‘junior’ or possible ‘Ocelot II’ variation or something like that.